By Stephen Wilson

A self-described millennial apologist, Kate Liptak ’09 has little to apologize for. What makes her so sensitive? What she describes as her “corkscrew career.”

“It doesn’t look like a very sensible line,” she says. “But you have to follow opportunities for growth because security through retirement is no longer a given.”

Despite this acute self-examination, Liptak has found solace in that career path, thanks in part to her support from Gateway Career Center.

“That corkscrew is my story,” she says. “It took time for me to see it as a strength, not something I should apologize for.” 

That story begins at home.

Liptak grew up in a scientific household where both parents worked in pharmaceuticals. Naturally, she inherited a strong analytical mind. Entering the College as a biology major, Liptak quickly realized she “wanted less lecture and more time to share her opinions.” Soon she was studying English.

“I remember after graduation they gave me a book called I’m an English Major – Now What?” she says. “Which was fair, because I really didn’t know.”

Her first summer following graduation had her working as a project assistant at a clinical research organization.

The next twist began at her doctor’s office where casual talk about her job suddenly became serious when asked if she wanted to coordinate the clinical trials in that practice.

“Nothing like getting a job opportunity while donning a medical gown,” Liptak says.

She did so well in the role, she soon was poached by a medical device company, one of the companies for which she ran trials. At this point, she had a background of working with patients, data monitoring, and regulatory compliance.

It didn’t take long for the company to see her value and move her to a customer training role so she could travel the country to assist physicians and their staff with device implementations. 

“I was creating materials to train people, which aligned my analytical and communication skill sets,” she says.

That combination soon had her sought after. She ran her own freelance writing business and then worked in facility maintenance.

“Through all of this, I was working in technical writing without even knowing it,” she says. “I naturally gravitated toward that certain aspect in all of my jobs.”

The latest twist has her in Florida at a tech company with an alumna who leads the product training and technical writing team. It seems a perfect match.

“I am able to distill analytical information in creative ways,” she says. “I like to say it’s my job to figure out tasks using incomplete instructions and then write the instructions I wish I’d had for others who will never see or know me.”

It was her Gateway counselor, Margie Cherry, associate director for alumni career services, who helped her connect the dots.

Liptak attended Gateway lectures and events as a student but readily admits she uses the services more as an alumna than as a student.

“Now I wouldn’t dream of job searching without talking to Margie,” she says. “In fact, it’s happened where Margie found out about an offer before my family because I wanted to review the compensation package with her first!.”

Liptak knows the job market can be daunting when posted requirements seem to demand the super-human.

“Margie was my cheerleader when my confidence wavered,” she says. “She is honest, lends a critical eye, offers great suggestions, and keeps it light.”

Cherry helped her with owning her story, drafting a value proposition, navigating interview questions, and bolstering her LinkedIn profile.

“She helped me to stop apologizing for my corkscrew,” Liptak says.


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